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Am I an Alcoholic if I Drink a Bottle of Wine a Day?

For many people, wine can be easy to drink. But if you’re drinking a bottle of wine a day on a regular basis you’re at risk of significant health issues. It can also be the beginning of alcohol dependence or alcoholism.

This article explains:

  • Why drinking a bottle of wine a day is problematic
  • What low-risk alcohol consumption looks like
  • How to identify if you may be an alcoholic
  • How to seek help
  • What treatment and rehabilitation for alcoholism involve?

How Much Wine Does the Average Person Drink a Day?

The statistics on average drinking levels vary wildly across studies, and they are not specific to wine. Here are two example research studies from each end of the spectrum:

  1. In 2019, Yorkshire Cancer Research commissioned a study of 3,000 adults who drink. They found that, on average, drinkers in the U.K. drink alcohol twice a week and consume nine units. This equates to four small glasses of 12% wine. 
  2. The findings of the Health at a Glance 2019 study were starkly different. Annual alcohol sales records indicated that the average drinker in the UK consumes 9.7 litres of pure alcohol per year. This is equal to 108 bottles of wine per year, or one-third of a bottle of wine per day. 

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Do We Drink Too Much Wine?

Alcohol misuse is recognised as a significant public health issue in the UK that has major health, social and economic consequences. Each year, there are over 1 million admissions to hospitals for alcohol-related conditions.

There is plenty of research evidence to conclude that, as a nation, the UK has an unhealthy drinking culture. Alcohol is the leading cause of ill health, disability and death among 15 to 49-year-olds in England (UK Government website).

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Trends in adult drinking levels in England according to the Mental Health and Wellbeing in England Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014:

  • 16.6% drank at hazardous levels (AUDIT scores of 8 to 15)
  • 1.9% were harmful or mildly dependent drinkers (AUDIT scores of 16 to 19)
  • 2% were likely dependent drinkers (AUDIT scores of 20 or more)
  • 57.5% drank at lower risk levels
  • 22.8% did not drink at all

Measuring Alcohol Consumption

It’s safest to drink a maximum of 14 units a week, spread over at least three days, with several drink-free days and no binge drinking.

Alcohol consumption is linked to over 60 serious health conditions, including liver disease, multiple forms of cancer and depression. The risk of developing health issues increases the more regularly you drink large amounts of alcohol. For this reason, the UK’s Chief Medical Officers published new “low-risk” drinking guidelines to help people make healthier choices about their alcohol consumption.

2016 UK Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

The guidelines apply to women and men and state that:

  • It’s safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
  • If you regularly drink 14 units per week, it’s best to spread your drinking over three or more days. Having one or two heavy drinking episodes a week increases your risk of death from long-term illness, accidents, and injuries.
  • The risk of developing various health problems, such as mouth, throat and breast cancers, increases the more you drink regularly.
  • Having several drink-free days every week will help you to keep to safer drinking levels.

Making Sense of Units of Alcohol

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1 unit of alcohol equals:

  • Half a pint of beer, lager or cider
  • One single measure of spirits
  • One small glass of sherry
  • One single measure of aperitifs

14 units of alcohol equals:

  • Six pints of beer or lager
  • Six glasses of wine / one and a half bottles
  • Fourteen single-measure glasses of spirits

(The above conversions are based on standard measures of medium-strength alcohol.)

You can use this handy calculator to work out how many units you drink each week. 

Are You an Alcoholic?

Drinking a bottle of wine a day is undoubtedly hazardous drinking. It puts you at risk of significant health issues but does not necessarily mean you are an alcoholic.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism (also known as alcohol addiction, alcohol use disorder and alcohol dependence) is an uncontrollable desire to drink and an inability to stop drinking. Anyone from any walk of life can become an alcoholic. 

An alcoholic will:

  • Develop a tolerance to alcohol, meaning they need to drink more to feel the effects. 
  • Keep drinking even though it is causing significant issues in their life (unless they are a functioning alcoholic).
  • Experience potentially dangerous or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking suddenly.

If left untreated, alcoholism can be fatal. However, with professional treatment, alcoholics can achieve recovery and live healthy and sober lives. 

Alcohol Use Disorder Self-Assessment Quiz

Recognising or acknowledging that alcohol is dominating your life can be extremely difficult. Denial is a key aspect of addiction. Thankfully, several self-assessment tools are available to help you identify if you may be alcohol-dependent.

One of the most reliable tools is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). Medical professionals widely use it to diagnose alcohol addiction (Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)).

Take the DSM-5 Test

Take a look at the 11 questions below. It is important to answer each question honestly.

In the past year, have you:

  1. Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  2. More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  3. Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  4. Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
  5. Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  6. Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  7. Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you or gave you pleasure in order to drink?
  8. More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  9. Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  10. Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  11. Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

Answering “yes” to two or more of the questions above indicates Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

The severity of the AUD is defined as:

  • Mild: the presence of 2 to 3 symptoms
  • Moderate: the presence of 4 to 5 symptoms
  • Severe: the presence of 6 or more symptoms.

Difference Between Alcohol Dependence and Drinking in Moderation

A person who is dependent on alcohol continues to drink despite their alcohol use causing recurrent health, social and relationship problems. A person who drinks in moderation can drink in a controlled way, keeping to the recommended Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines. Their use of alcohol will not negatively impact their life.

Can Drinking Wine Cause Cirrhosis of the Liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver is the most serious stage of liver disease. Half of the people who develop alcoholic cirrhosis die from the condition. 

It is well-documented that alcohol abuse increases the risk of cirrhosis. However, until 2002, little was known about the risks associated with wine consumption specifically. Becker, Grønbaek, Johansen and Sørensen set out to change this with a study involving 30,630 participants.

The project assessed the effects of wine, compared with other types of alcohol, on the risk for alcohol-induced cirrhosis. The results confirmed that a high intake of any form of alcohol conveys an increased risk for cirrhosis. In addition, the evidence suggested that wine drinkers are at a lower risk than beer and spirits drinkers.

How Do I Seek Help?

We know that admitting you need help is a big step, but it’s a significant one. It means you are ready to consider doing things differently with the right support. Our friendly admissions staff are at the end of the phone to help you find your path to recovery.

We have an extensive network of experienced professional addiction treatment resources across the UK, Ireland, Sweden and The Netherlands. We can help you find the right treatment choice for you, even if it’s not with us.

At Smarmore we offer advanced addiction treatment

Treatment and Rehabilitation for Alcoholism

There is no one-size-fits-all rehab program for alcoholism. All people who come through our doors have very different needs and circumstances. Our experienced addiction psychiatrists will base your tailored, holistic treatment plan on their medical diagnosis and assessment of your needs.

Castle Craig’s Treatment Model for Alcohol Addiction

We believe that alcoholism is a primary, chronic brain disease and that patients must undergo an abstinence-based programme in order to achieve long-lasting recovery. Your treatment will follow the 12-Step model of recovery, supported by other evidence-based treatment methods.

Our programme includes:

Free Alcohol Addiction Assessments

Before admission, you will receive a free telephone or Zoom assessment with an addiction case manager. The assessment provides an opportunity to touch on personal circumstances that may be contributing to your dependency. For example, such as trauma, grief, depression and anxiety.

There is no obligation to pursue treatment if we are not the right hospital for you. If you pursue treatment with us, you will receive a full assessment with a consultant psychiatrist on admission. Your free addiction assessment will provide the initial foundation for your customised treatment plan.

Alcohol Detox

You may require a medically supervised detox before you are ready to move on to the therapy programme.

Detox provides a safe environment for you to clear your body of alcohol as comfortably as possible. The process typically takes 2-3 days. Our psychiatrists, nurses and doctors will ensure that you have the right care and support for the duration.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Choices

Primary Treatment (Rehab)

Patients attend residential treatment as an inpatient. During your inpatient treatment, you will begin to work through a personalised therapy programme designed to create long-lasting life changes. 

Some patients wish to seek treatment as an outpatient. If you choose to do this, you will spend 21 days in rehab before being discharged to continue treatment at home.

Alcohol Relapse Prevention

On completion of your primary treatment, you will work with your primary therapist to build a plan for long-term sobriety.

Your plan will include the following:

Continuing Care

Recovery is an ongoing process; you will continue the work you started in treatment when you leave the treatment centre. Our aftercare support services include weekly group sessions, check-ins and alumni meetings. will help you to make recovery practice part of your daily life through weekly group sessions, check-ins and alumni meet-ups. 

Are you ready to talk about your recovery? Give our team a call or apply for admission online today. 

Last updated & clinically assessed 1 November, 2022